School principals are preparing for continued Covid disruption for the “foreseeable future” as children in England and Wales return to school after the mid-term break.
School leaders said the “disaster” of the 12- to 15-year-old vaccination program meant there were still “large numbers” of children waiting to be punched.
Before the mid-term break, around 200,000 pupils were not attending public schools in England because of the coronavirus.
While there are hopes that the holiday will serve as a “circuit breaker” to interrupt transportation networks, many presidents believe infection rates will remain high due to the slow rollout of the vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds.
Although the national reservation system for vaccinations for under-16s opened last week, according to the latest figures, only 21.7 per cent of 12-15-year-olds in England have taken the knockdown. In Scotland, the number held steady at 53.5 per cent.
High school students have been asked to wear masks in public areas across large swathes of England, including the southwest, Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, Suffolk and Tyneside.
James Bowen is director of policy at the National Association of School Principals I: “In the coming weeks we will see if half the term has an impact on case numbers in schools.
“However, given the high numbers of cases we continue to see in communities, school leaders are concerned that unless the government does more, the disruption is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.”
Mr Bowen said the heads wanted to see changes to isolation rules so siblings of those who tested positive did not go to school until they received a negative PCR test – a rule Wells recently adopted – along with “more urgency” about improving ventilation.
Jeff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the school vaccination program had been “a disaster, plagued by delays and logistical difficulties from the start.”
“The result is that we are entering the second half of the fall semester with large numbers of students still needing to be vaccinated.”
He said the decision to allow under-16s to receive their vaccines at vaccination centers was an “afterthought” that should have been taken earlier.
“It is not yet clear whether the half-term break will have a positive impact on infection rates, but the government should press the vaccination campaign and also continue to encourage twice-weekly home testing for eligible pupils, as well as make funding available for high-quality ventilation systems in schools. and colleges.”
In the House of Commons, the Shadow Schools Minister, Peter Kyle, reiterated Labour’s call for exclusion zones to be established to prevent anti-extremist anti-partisan activists protesting outside schools.
“Students face a wall of restless and angry anti-vaccinators, who are preventing them from entering the school by bullying, harassing and obstructing their flow to school,” he said.
The Minister of Education, Nadim Al-Zahawi, said: “There is no place for anti-vaccinationists or applying anywhere near school leaders, and I have the reassurance of the Minister of Interior [Priti Patel] It will provide whatever resource the sector needs to make sure that these people in our schools are protected and able to take on the task of educating children.”